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Lady Lions go under against Brookside’s underclassmen

By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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STOCKTON – There are only six players on the roster, and they’re so young at that.

But Brookside Christian High School advanced to Thursday night’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division V girls basketball quarterfinal for some reason, and Valley Christian Academy found out how.

The seventh-seeded Lady Lions (23-5) were swarmed by second-seeded Brookside Christian (24-5) on every possession – so swarmed that the team that rolled through the Sacramento Metro Athletic League unscathed at 12-0 committed 47 turnovers in an 82-45 loss before a small but loud crowd.

Valley Christian had no answer for freshmen Tiara Tucker and Noni Kuumba, who stepped in front of Lady Lions passes and streaked for layup after layup after layup.

Tucker scored 35 points on 16-of-27 shooting from the field. Kuumba scored 11 of her 23 points – on 10-of-18 shooting – in the last period and had nine rebounds and eight assists in a very Magic Johnson-like game.

Junior Heather Frank led Valley Christian with 19 points, and senior Midori Bounds had 10 points and seven rebounds. Senior Carly Gish, the Lady Lions’ leading scorer, aggravated an ankle injury early in the game and had eight points and a team-high nine rebounds. And senior Sam Shoemake had six points and seven rebounds in her final high school game.

The seniors helped Valley Christian win its first volleyball league championship in the fall, and they followed by winning the school its first girls basketball league crown.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my girls. They remained a class act out on the floor,” Valley Christian coach Kim Contreras said. “They could have gotten riled up by the crowd, and they didn’t let it get to them. Character first always, and they maintained it.

“The whole journey has been nothing but a privilege. I’ve had awesome girls. I had the privilege of working with them, teaching them, hanging out with them.”
The Lady Lions had 10 turnovers in the first quarter and 23 in the half. Gish’s injury didn’t help.

“She’s our main ball-handler, so it’s hard when she’s not on her game,” Contreras said. “What hurt us the most was when the (Brookside) girl would just sprint and they would just chuck the ball down there. I kept telling my girls, you gotta be down there. Just deny it and get in there. My girls were panicking and getting rid of the ball way too quick.”

Leading 35-22 at halftime, Brookside put away the game with a 26-12 third quarter.

The Lady Lions advanced to the second round with a 42-36 victory over Sacramento Waldorf on Tuesday night. Gish scored 12 of her game-high 28 points in the second period.

Contact Bill Poindexter at billp@goldcountrymedia.com.